Revenue backs down on property tax a second time
HOMEOWNERS have been given an extra week to tell the Revenue by letter how they will pay the property tax.
It is the second climbdown by the Revenue Commissioners on property tax in two days and comes ahead of the appearance of Revenue officials at an Oireachtas committee today to explain their handling of the controversy.
On Tuesday, it emerged homeowners who pay their property tax by cheque will be allowed to settle up by the new year, rather than paying before Christmas.
But Fianna Fail has published legislation to ensure no one will have to pay the 2014 property tax before the end of 2013, regardless of how they choose to pay it.
Revenue announced its latest U-turn yesterday morning, just 24 hours before the deadline.
The tax authorities said the move was prompted by the volume of queries regarding the payment from people who filed their 2013 return on paper.
The opening hours of the property tax helpline were also extended to deal with queries from members of the public.
The deadline for responding to the Revenue letter online is still November 27, meaning payment by credit card and debit card is still at that point.
Revenue had told homeowners to pay their property tax bill for 2014 by November 27 – if they were making a single payment by credit or debit card or by cheque.
But the cheque payment has now been broken into a two-stage process, with homeowners having to say how they will pay this month and actually making the payment by January 1.
Revenue is understood to be continuing to examine the issue of allowing homeowners paying by credit and debit card to delay payment until next year.
The Labour Party is pushing for a break in the link between homeowners saying how they will pay and the payment.
Labour TD Ciaran Lynch, the Oireachtas Finance Committee chairman, said he welcomed the two moves by Revenue over the deadline and the cheques.
He said the committee would be focusing on the contentious question of card payments.
"The purpose is to examine that issue to see if solutions can be found. One million people fall into this category of the single payment. It is not an issue of compliance as they want to pay. It is about good customer service," he said.
Fianna Fail has now published legislation providing that no payment can be deducted from a property owner until the commencement of the calendar year to which the liability relates.
Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said Revenue was implementing legislation as enacted by the Government.
"The Government is entirely to blame for this fiasco which is seeing people being charged now for property tax that isn't due until next year," he said.
"Our legislation, the Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) (No 2) Bill, amends the Local Property Tax law to ensure that people only have to pay the tax in the calendar year in which it is due and not before," he added.
The Local Property Tax helpline is open from 8am to 8pm on 1890 200 255.